The pathology of essential tremor is increasingly being studied; however, there are limited studies of biochemical changes in this condition.
We studied several candidate biochemical/anatomical systems in the brainstem, striatum and cerebellum of 23 essential tremor subjects who came to autopsy, comparing them to a control population.
Striatal tyrosine hydroxylase, a marker of dopaminergic neurons, was 91.7 ±113.2 ng/mg versus 96.4±102.7 ng/mg (not significant) in cases and controls. Locus ceruleus dopamine beta-hydroxylase, a marker of noradrenergic neurons, was not significantly different between essential tremor and control groups. Parvalbumin, a marker of GABAergic neurons, was 199.3±42.0 versus 251.4±74.8 ng/mg (p=0.025) in the pons in the region of the locus ceruleus of essential tremor versus controls, while there was no difference in cerebellar parvalbumin.
These results are supportive of a possible role for reduced GABAergic function within the locus ceruleus in essential tremor. The hypothesis that essential tremor represents early Parkinson’s disease was not supported as striatal dopaminergic markers were not reduced compared to control subjects.
tremor; pathology; GABA; norepinephrine
Dementia is a frequent complication of Parkinson’s disease (PD). About half of PD dementia (PDD) is hypothesized to be due to progression of the underlying Lewy body pathology into limbic regions and the cerebral cortex while the other half is thought to be due to coexistent Alzheimer’s disease. Clinically, however, these are indistinguishable. The spread of amyloid plaques to the striatum has been reported to be a sensitive and specific indicator of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The purpose of the present study was to determine if the presence of striatal plaques might also be a useful indicator of the presence of diagnostic levels of AD pathology within PD subjects. We analyzed neuropathologically-confirmed cases of PD without dementia (PDND, N = 31), PDD without AD (PDD, N = 31) and PD with dementia meeting clinicopathological criteria for AD (PDAD, N =40). The minimum diagnostic criterion for AD was defined as including a clinical history of dementia, moderate or frequent CERAD cortical neuritic plaque density and Braak neurofibrillary stage III–VI. Striatal amyloid plaque densities were determined using Campbell-Switzer and Thioflavine S stains. Striatal plaque densities were significantly higher in PDAD compared to PDD (p<0.001). The presence of striatal plaques was approximately 80% sensitive and 80% specific for predicting AD. In comparison, the presence of cerebral cortex plaques alone was highly sensitive (100%) but had poor specificity (48% to 55%). The results suggest that striatal amyloid imaging may be clinically useful for making the distinction between PDD and PDAD.
striatum; Lewy body; diagnosis; autopsy; neuropathology; biomarker
Evaluate electrophysiologic findings in incidental Lewy Body disease (ILBD).
ILBD, Control, and Parkinson's disease (PD) subjects had electrophysiological evaluation within two years prior to autopsy. Data analyzed included surface electromyography (EMG) of upper extremity muscles during rest and muscle activation, and electroencephalography (EEG) recording at rest. For EMG, gross tracings and spectral peaks were analyzed. EEG measures analyzed were background frequency and power in delta, theta, alpha, and beta bands.
Three of ten ILBD subjects (30%) showed unilateral rhythmic EMG discharges at rest without a visually apparent rest tremor. The ILBD resting EMG frequency was lower than in the Control group with no overlap (P=0.03) and close to that of the PD group. The ILBD group had significantly lower background rhythm frequency than the Control group (P=0.001) but was greater than the PD group (P=0.01).
The electrophysiologic changes in ILBD cases are between those of Control and PD, suggesting that these findings may reflect changes correlating with ILBD as a possible precursor to PD.
Electrophysiologic changes in ILBD may assist with the identification of a preclinical stage for Lewy body disorders and help the development of a therapeutic agent for modifying Lewy body disease progression.
Lewy body; Electromyography; Electroencephalography; Pathology; Parkinson's disease; Tremor
Compare the frequency of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) in Parkinson’s disease (PD), restless legs syndrome (RLS), essential tremor (ET), and control subjects.
Subjects enrolled in a longitudinal clinicopathologic study, and when available an informant, completed the Mayo Sleep Questionnaire, which asks “Have you ever been told that you act out your dreams?”, and the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS).
Probable RBD (based on informant response to the questionnaire) was much more frequent in PD (34/49, 69%, p<0.001) than in RLS (6/30, 20%), ET (7/53, 13%), or control subjects (23/175, 13%), with an odds ratio of 11 for PD compared to controls. The mean ESS and the number of subjects with an ESS ≥ 10 was higher in PD (29/60, 48%, p<0.001) and RLS (12/39, 31%, p<0.001) compared with ET (12/93, 13%) and Controls (34/296, 11%).
Probable RBD is much more frequent in PD with no evidence to suggest an increase in either RLS or ET. Given the evidence that RBD is a synucleinopathy, the lack of an increased frequency of RBD in subjects with ET or RLS suggests the majority of ET and RLS subjects are unlikely to be at increased risk for developing PD.
Parkinson’s disease; REM sleep behavior disorder; essential tremor; restless legs syndrome; excessive daytime sleepiness
The ability to understand how Parkinson’s disease (PD) neurodegeneration leads to cortical dysfunction will be critical for developing therapeutic advances in PD dementia (PD-D). The overall purpose of this project was to study the small amplitude cortical myoclonus in PD as an in vivo model of focal cortical dysfunction secondary to PD neurodegeneration. The objectives were to test the hypothesis that cortical myoclonus in PD is linked to abnormal levels of α-synuclein in primary motor cortex and to define its relationship to various biochemical, clinical, and pathological measures.
Primary motor cortex was evaluated for 11 PD subjects with (PD+Myoclonus group) and 8 without (PD group) electrophysiologically confirmed cortical myoclonus who had premortem movement and cognitive testing. Similarly assessed 9 controls were used for comparison. Measurements for α-synuclein, Aβ-42 peptide, and other biochemical measures were made in primary motor cortex.
A 36% increase in α-synuclein was found in the motor cortex of PD+Myoclonus cases when compared to PD without myoclonus. This occurred without significant differences in insoluble α-synuclein, phosphorylated to total α-synuclein ratio, or Aβ-42 peptide levels. Higher total motor cortex α-synuclein levels significantly correlated with the presence of cortical myoclonus but did not correlate with multiple clinical or pathological findings.
These results suggest an association between elevated α-synuclein and the dysfunctional physiology arising from the motor cortex in PD+Myoclonus cases. Alzheimer’s disease pathology was not associated with cortical myoclonus in PD. Cortical myoclonus arising from motor cortex is a model to study cortical dysfunction in PD.
We aimed to describe cases with incidental neuropathological findings of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) from the Banner Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation Program.
We performed a retrospective review of 277 subjects with longitudinal motor and neuropsychological assessments who came to autopsy. The mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading for subjects with possible incidental neuropathological PSP was compared to those of subjects with clinically manifest disease.
There were 5 cases with histopathological findings suggestive of PSP, but no parkinsonism, dementia or movement disorder during life. Cognitive evaluation revealed 4 of the 5 cases to be cognitively normal; one case had amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in her last year of life. The mean age at death of the 5 cases was 88.9 years (range 80-94). All 5 individuals had histopathologic microscopic findings suggestive of PSP. Mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading was significantly lower in subjects with possible incidental neuropathological PSP than subjects with clinical PSP, particularly in the subthalamic nucleus.
We present 5 patients with histopathological findings suggestive of PSP, without clinical PSP, dementia or parkinsonism during life. These incidental neuropathological PSP findings may represent the early or pre-symptomatic stage of PSP. The mean Gallyas-positive PSP features grading was significantly lower in possible incidental PSP than in clinical PSP, thus suggesting that a threshold of pathological burden needs to be reached within the typically affected areas in PSP before clinical signs and symptoms appear.
progressive supranuclear palsy; PSP; incidental; autopsy; parkinsonism; neuropathology
Hypokinetic dysarthria is a common manifestation of Parkinson's disease, which negatively influences quality of life. Behavioral techniques that aim to improve speech intelligibility constitute the bulk of intervention strategies for this population, as the dysarthria does not often respond vigorously to medical interventions. Although several case and group studies generally support the efficacy of behavioral treatment, much work remains to establish a rigorous evidence base. This absence of definitive research leaves both the speech-language pathologist and referring physician with the task of determining the feasibility and nature of therapy for intelligibility remediation in PD. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a novel framework for medical practitioners in which to conceptualize and justify potential targets for speech remediation. The most commonly targeted deficits (e.g., speaking rate and vocal loudness) can be supported by this approach, as well as underutilized and novel treatment targets that aim at the listener's perceptual skills.
Limited clinical information has been published on cases pathologically diagnosed with incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD). Standardized, longitudinal movement and cognitive data was collected on a cohort of subjects enrolled in the Sun Health Research Institute Brain and Body Donation Program. Of 277 autopsied subjects who had antemortem clinical evaluations within the previous 3 years, 76 did not have Parkinson’s disease, a related disorder, or dementia of which 15 (20%) had ILBD. Minor extrapyramidal signs were common in subjects with and without ILBD. Cognitive testing revealed an abnormality in the ILBD group in the Trails B test only. ILBD cases had olfactory dysfunction; however, sample size was very small. This preliminary report revealed ILBD cases have movement and cognitive findings that for the most part were not out of proportion to similarly assessed and age-similar cases without Lewy bodies. Larger sample size is needed to have the power to better assess group differences.
incidental Lewy body disease; Lewy bodies; Parkinson’s disease; demential with Lewy bodies
Subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD) frequently develop dementia with greater than one-third meeting neuropathologic diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease (AD). The objective is to identify clinical and neuropathological differences between PDD (PD with dementia) subjects, with and without coexistent AD pathology. Neuropathologic examination was available on subjects diagnosed by clinicopathologic criteria with PDD-AD (N = 23) and PDD+AD (N = 28). A small subset of subjects with PDD-AD and PDD+AD had received at least one standardized neuropsychological assessment. PDD+AD subjects were significantly older at age of PD onset and death, progressed to onset of dementia in less time, and had a shorter duration of PD symptoms prior to the onset of dementia. Education, responsiveness of L-Dopa and dopaminergic medications, presence of cognitive fluctuations and hallucinations, mean MMSE, GDS, FAST and UPDRS scores did not differ significantly between the two groups. The PDD+AD group had significantly greater total plaques, neuritic plaques, total tangles, and Braak stages compared to PDD-AD. This study suggests that it is difficult to distinguish PDD+AD and PDD-AD on the basis of movement, clinical, and neuropsychological assessment. PDD-AD and PDD+AD have similar degrees of dementia and approximately half of PDD subjects have enough AD pathology to attain a neuropathological diagnosis of AD. PDD can develop in the absence of significant Alzheimer pathology.
Parkinson' disease with dementia; Alzheimer's Disease; Dementia with Lewy Bodies; assessment of dementia
Argyrophilic grains (AGs) are a pathologic feature found in association with neurodegenerative disease. Some have suggested that these features may occur as a distinctive condition. We reviewed 80 subjects from our tissue bank with pathologically confirmed AGs and identified their clinical features. We compared these subjects' features to the features of subjects with matched clinical diagnoses but without AGs. Subjects with AGs represented 21.7% of the entire autopsy sample from 1999 through 2005 (80/367). Of AD subjects, 43 /233 had AGs (18.4% of AD subjects); 11 /42 PD-D subjects had AGs (26.1% of PDD subjects); 2 / 9 DLB subjects had AGs (22.2% of DLB subjects); 4 /15 MCI subjects had AGs (26.7% of MCI subjects); and 20 /68 cognitively normal subjects had AGs (29.4% of NC). Subjects with AGs tended to be older but only significantly so in AD. Many co-morbid non-neurological health conditions were seen in cases of AGs without any single predilection emerging. AGs occur in approximately 22% of the entire autopsy cohort and likely are associated with advanced age. No distinctive antemortem clinical features were overrepresented in the AG cases. AGs can occur with or without neurodegenerative conditions and can occur in the absence of significant cognitive decline. AGs are not clearly associated with any single co-morbid health condition.
Argyrophilic grains; dementia; neurodegeneration; neuropathology
Dementia is a common disabling complication in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD). The underlying molecular causes of Parkinson's disease with dementia (PDD) are poorly understood. To identify candidate genes and molecular pathways involved in PDD, we have performed whole genome expression profiling of susceptible cortical neuronal populations. Results show significant differences in expression of 162 genes (P < 0.01) between PD patients who are cognitively normal (PD-CogNL) and controls. In contrast, there were 556 genes (P < 0.01) significantly altered in PDD compared to either healthy controls or to PD-CogNL cases. These results are consistent with increased cortical pathology in PDD relative to PD-CogNL and identify underlying molecular changes associated with the increased pathology of PDD. Lastly, we have identified expression differences in 69 genes in PD cortical neurons that occur before the onset of dementia and that are exacerbated upon the development of dementia, suggesting that they may be relevant presymptomatic contributors to the onset of dementia in PD. These results provide new insights into the cortical molecular changes associated with PDD and provide a highly useful reference database for researchers interested in PDD.
Parkinson's disease; gene expression; mRNA splicing; ; laser capture microdissection; dementia
Orthostatic tremor (OT) is a disabling movement disorder manifested by postural and gait disturbance. Primarily a condition of elderly people, it can be progressive in up to 15% of patients. The primary treatments are medications that are often ineffective.
A 75-year-old male presented with a 10-year history of progressive and disabling OT. He had tried various medications without significant benefits. He underwent bilateral thalamic Vim deep brain stimulation (DBS). At 30-month follow-up, he has had continued significant improvement of his OT.
Bilateral thalamic DBS may be a viable option for medically refractory OT.
Orthostatic tremor; deep brain stimulation; thalamus
A sensitive immunohistochemical method for phosphorylated α-synuclein was used to stain sets of sections of spinal cord and tissue from 41 different sites in the bodies of 92 subjects, including 23 normal elderly, 7 with incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD), 17 with Parkinson’s disease (PD), 9 with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), 19 with Alzheimer’s disease with Lewy bodies (ADLB) and 17 with Alzheimer’s disease with no Lewy bodies (AD-NLB). The relative densities and frequencies of occurrence of phosphorylated α-synuclein histopathology (PASH) were tabulated and correlated with diagnostic category. The greatest densities and frequencies of PASH occurred in the spinal cord, followed by the paraspinal sympathetic ganglia, the vagus nerve, the gastrointestinal tract and endocrine organs. The frequency of PASH within other organs and tissue types was much lower. Spinal cord and peripheral PASH was most common in subjects with PD and DLB, where it appears likely that it is universally widespread. Subjects with ILBD had lesser densities of PASH within all regions, but had frequent involvement of the spinal cord and paraspinal sympathetic ganglia, with less-frequent involvement of end-organs. Subjects with ADLB had infrequent involvement of the spinal cord and paraspinal sympathetic ganglia with rare involvement of end-organs. Within the gastrointestinal tract, there was a rostrocaudal gradient of decreasing PASH frequency and density, with the lower esophagus and submandibular gland having the greatest involvement and the colon and rectum the lowest.
Parkinson’s disease; Parkinsonism; Dementia with Lewy bodies; Alzheimer’s disease; Incidental Lewy bodies; α-Synuclein; Spinal cord; Sympathetic nervous system; Peripheral nervous system; Autonomic nervous system; Enteric nervous system; Submandibular gland; Esophagus; Adrenal gland; Heart; Stomach; Gastrointestinal system
Incidental Lewy body disease (ILBD) is the term used when Lewy bodies are found in the nervous system of subjects without clinically documented parkinsonism or dementia. The prevalence of ILBD in the elderly population has been estimated at between 3.8 and 30%, depending on subject age and anatomical site of sampling. It has been speculated that ILBD represents the preclinical stage of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and/or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Studies of ILBD could potentially identify early diagnostic signs of these disorders. At present, however, it is impossible to know whether ILBD is a precursor to PD or DLB or is just a benign finding of normal aging. We hypothesized that, if ILBD represents an early stage of PD or DLB, it should be associated with depletion of striatal dopaminergic markers. Eleven subjects with ILBD and 27 control subjects were studied. The ILBD subjects ranged in age from 74 to 96 years (mean 86.5) while the control subjects’ age ranged from 75 to 102 years (mean 86.7). Controls and subjects did not differ in terms of age, postmortem interval, gender distribution, medical history conditions, brain weight, neuritic plaque density or Braak neurofibrillary stage. Quantitative ELISA measurement of striatal tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the principal enzyme for dopamine synthesis, showed a 49.8% (P = 0.01) reduction in ILBD cases, as compared with control cases. The finding suggests that ILBD is not a benign condition but is likely a precursor to PD and/or DLB.
Striatum; Dopamine; Parkinson’s disease; Lewy bodies; Pathogenesis; Aging